Sunday, April 19, 2009

FLORIDA: Morals aside, death penalty is flawed - OP Ed worth a good read & save

OpEd Writer, Scott Maxwell

APRIL 18, 2009:

FLORIDA: Find more on various States' updates as well as Op Ed, like the item below, at Rick Halperin's Death Penalty and Execution News here

Also find this Op Ed here
Morals aside, death penalty is flawed---All the Nancy Grace devotees must be thrilled to pieces.

BY Scott Maxwell | TAKING NAMES

Casey Anthony may die.

For nearly a year now, they've eagerly tuned into CNN Headline News every night where they get to ogle titillating party pics of America's worst mother under the thinly veiled guise of "news."

And now, they may get to watch her die.

Last week's news that the prosecution will seek the death penalty sent online message boards into a joyous frenzy.

"Fry baby Fry!" exclaimed someone named "TWM."

"Bring back the chair. I will pull the switch," said "Grasscutter."

"Justin" directed his fellow celebrants to an online game where they could kill an animated version of Anthony themselves.

"Now you can hang her, inject her or rack her!" he proclaimed.

Welcome to modern-day America, where crime as entertainment is the pastime of choice.

The Romans and their coliseums of death had nothing on us.

Welcome also to America's jury pool.

Lost in all this blood lust is the fact that the death penalty is flawed.

I'll skip over the moral dilemma and leave that to God and his disciples.

Instead, simply look at the facts: This country has executed the innocent.

That's not debatable.

And no rationale — be it revenge or legal strategy — is a valid one to perpetuate such an injustice.

People who have been killed in the name of justice have subsequently been exonerated.

Hundreds more have been sentenced to death, spared only because underpaid activists and lawyers — the truly "pro-life" advocates — worked tirelessly on their behalf.

The latest tally from the Death Penalty Information Center counts 131 people exonerated after conviction.

22 of those have been in Florida — more than any other state.

And those are just mistakes involving the death penalty.

Just this month, authorities in Texas determined that a man who died in jail after 14 years there never committed the rape for which he was convicted.

The judge said the Lubbock police botched the case in many ways. They unfairly lured Timothy Cole into a sting. They used a "suggestive lineup" that led the victim to identify Cole as her attacker. And Cole, the judge said, didn't even fit the profile of the rapist.

DNA later proved Cole was not the culprit.

"The evidence is crystal clear," said District Judge Charles Baird, "that he died in prison an innocent man."

But who really cared about that during the trial? Cole — a college student and military veteran — had been charged. And the community wanted blood.

Sound familiar?

There are other problems with the death penalty.

It's inherently unfair to the poor — and to men. Wealthy people can hire better attorneys to get them off. And of the 392 people currently on Florida's death row, only one is a woman.

There is also the cost and time of prosecution.

Experts say death-penalty cases can require as much as 10 times more money and time. That means justice for others is delayed. Or ignored.

And for those who argue that seeking the death penalty is just a good legal strategy — a way to get a plea bargain or life sentence — since when is it OK to threaten to kill merely as a tactic? If State Attorney Lawson Lamar is seeking the death penalty for Anthony, he had better be ready to actually kill her.

None of this is to say that Anthony is being unfairly charged with murder.

In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find an unbiased soul who could look at the mountain of circumstantial evidence and reach any other conclusion.

And the crime for which she has been charged — killing her own little angel-eyed daughter, Caylee — is beyond comprehension.

Little girls deserve fairy-tale lives — princess parties and stuffed animals. Daddies who make pancakes with too much syrup. And mommies who let them win at Chutes and Ladders.

The idea of anyone hurting one — much less killing their own — makes the head spin and gut wrench.

And, yes, it generates understandable and instinctive urges to kill in return.

But does that desire for lethal revenge justify perpetuating a system that has also executed the innocent?

The problem is that, for so many engrossed in this story, this is not the time for such philosophical questions.

They want a climactic finale to this story.

And only more blood will do.

From Op Ed page of Orlando Sentinel

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